Thursday, June 9, 2005
Posted: Thursday, June 09, 2005 at 21:39
Thanks to everyone at Banquo Christian Church for planning a benefit concert for the street kids. We raised over $400 and were entertained by four great groups. The Good Shepherd Praise & Worship Band kicked off with some great worship. Next The Master's Own shared their Gospel style of worship. It was a good afternoon of good music. We were supposed to have the concert outside but had to move it inside due to the heat.
The Master's Own
After a presentation by Michael for Shepherd's Purse Tracy Munday presented more great music.
Tracy Munday Finally, Liston Creek ended the afternoon with some lively renditions which included curtain calls following "Power in the Blood". A great finale by Liston Creek
Everyone had a good afternoon followed by hot dogs and hamburgers.
There was only one glitch. A tornadic storm began blowing shingles off the church roof and the guys grilling had to run inside. It lasted about a half hour while we ate. On the way home I saw trees down all over the place. We were all commenting that maybe the enemy doesn't like what we were doing...trying very hard to raise funds for kids who are struggling to live. Thanks again to everyone...especially our brother Crouch who organized the whole even. And thanks again to Banquo Christian for hosting the event.
Posted: Monday, May 30, 2005 at 08:10
We made it. Shirley (my wife) and I took a small team of 8 people to Kherson, Ukraine and we are back home safe. It was a great trip! One of the unusual hightlights for me...seeing our men in uniform at the airports. In line at a Burger King one young man said he was taking some leave. He was not returning home for good...just for a short time. For some reason everytime I saw these guys I wanted to shake their hands and wish them Godspeed. The reason, I believe, is that these guys are out there in foreign lands making a difference. God bless you--men and women of the United States services.
Today is a day of memory for me. Not just our brave soldiers who protect us from clear and present danger but of the sweet children we met who are suffering the curse of a God forsaking government. Ukraine is opening up. Yet, the children still suffer the results of past sin.
Right out of our van in Kherson we were greeted by Alla (street kids director), other friends (staff), and by Nastya. She came right up and gave me a hug. I was thrilled to see her. Although I look dazed...no sleep the night before...I really was thrilled.
We spent a great week with all the ministries and kids. One afternoon I just sat at a table and watched the kids paint me pictures. I had brought watercolors and brushes. It was great to see the creative intensity in their faces, especially Nastya's. She is very intelligent and creative. All the other kids painted the same basic nature scene. This was not enough for her. She had to hunt up carbon paper and trace a coloring book picture onto the watercolor pad.
It was also good to get to know her brother Ruslin (17 years old). Such a sweet young man and so hungry for a Father's love.
And then...on Sunday...Nastya brought her brother, mother and current boyfriend to church with us. She told her mother not to drink and to take a bath for the occasion. The boyfriend had on house slippers and exercise pants (normal attire for many). Ruslin had on flipflops. Nastya's hands were dirty. She and Ruslin told me they were living back at home. Alla later told me that was not true. They were actually back in the hatches because the new boyfriend was abusing them. I asked Ruslin earlier how homelife was. He smiled big and said good. I asked again, "Is it really?" He was a bit more serious and said it was fine. I asked a third time (felt like Jesus asking Peter about his love for Him). The third time Ruslin got a bit teary eyed and said it was--okay.
I hate the enemies ravaging of the innocents. I hate it!!!
Overall, we had a great week. Do you get our newsletter? If not request it. We will have stories in a week or so.
One weird thing...God thing...everywhere we looked there was Shepherd's Purse growing prolifically. Wow...everywhere...even in the cracks of the sidewalks.
It was amazing to see this plant growing in huge clumps all over. The white flowers were blooming and began to drop their petals as our trip came to an end. Amazing!
A lot happened. One day we were out hiking around town and ran into a nine-year old boy who could hardly walk. He was wandering aimlessly amidst the crowded streets but seemed to be unnoticed--forgotten. When we approached him he was all "brave" smiles. His chin quivered slightly as he told us he had nowhere to go and had not eaten for 3 days. We got him food. We hugged him and the next day he showed up at the center for help.
He was frail and wounded. His skin was baked from the sun and he could hardly walk. He was Jesus Christ.
We were blessed to meet him.
During the week we sponsored two picnics, visited an orphanage, visited a street kids shelter, etc. At the shelter, kids off the streets can stay for 3 months. We asked the older ones to tell their stories. They were all the same. "My parents abuse me. They drink. I escape to the streets. There was no food...or little." Most of the kids came to tears telling all of this...so did we. Some would not tell their stories...too painful. One boy said, "Our house just burned down while I was at school. My parents died in the fire. The authorities brought me here and no one told me about my parents until a few days later. I did not know why I was here." Then he pleaded for our prayer. "Pray that one of my relatives will come for me." His chances were slim.
The stories were heart-rending. It was a wonderful week of hugging, playing, talking, with the sweet kids who are on the precipice of this countries future.
And then the last morning came. Nastya and her brother Ruslin waved at me from outside the church facility where we were staying. They got up early from the sewer and came over to see us off. I hugged them both. They would not let go. I told them I loved them both. They both had tears. They both clung a long time. They gave me a stuffed toy animal as a gift. My daughter Megin had given them a watch and we had given them many other gifts. And then we said goodbye.
Ten minutes later I went out to check for our van. They saw me from the street and came running again. More hugs. I decided to let them stay for the next half hour till we left. And as we were driving off we kept waving. I was heading back to my American home of luxury. They to their home.
I showed Nastya a picture of my house in Michigan. She gasped and showed the picture to her brother. He looked at it for a long moment and then looked at me like he couldn't believe it.
I hate to think about what was going through their minds. I cannot stand steady in that kind of pain and hopelessness. And they are just two of many of those forgotten.
Today...I try to remember the look in Nastya's eyes as I cupped her face in my hands and told her we in this country are praying for her and that we love her.
Today...it hurts to remember....
...tha this thirteen-year old girl, in the streets since she was four, is sleeping in a place of darkness. She may never know a loving family. However, I pray she will know there is a father that loves her very much.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 16:19
Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people. This is pretty much the theme of the movie, "Kingdom of Heaven".
It seems each time I get ready for a trip a good movie stirs me in some way. Last Christmas it was the Polar Express. A mystical train ride on a dark Christmas night. The poor boy. The children. All stirred my heart for the kids living in darkness. And so we, together, raised funds to produce a great "Christmas in Kherson". Tomorrow we leave for Kherson, Ukraine with a small team. Yesterday I went to see, "Kingdom of Heaven" with my daughter and son-in-law. I have always been stirred by Braveheart type stories. I love the chivalry and integrity of true Knighthood and it was there in the movie yesterday. A theme was "protect the people". Regretfully, our young men and women are not learning that lesson well enough. This morning I read a news article about how school violence can flare up unexpectedly. Students are fearful. Students are angry. One said his friend just sucker punched a guy in the back of the head and it sounded like a sledge hammer hitting a wall. No one intervened. Sucker punched? Back of the head? This is the action of a true coward. This young man allowed evil to fill his heart. There was nothing courageous about his action. Chivalry was far from his thinking.
Where were the young knights around this evil event? Were all so afraid to stand up for integrity? Was there no champion to face this coward? Men who hit from behind are evil. Men who target the weak and defenseless are cowards. We need a generation of knights - protectors of the poor and outcast. Protectors of the weak. Protectors of the different. Instead our children are learning to laugh at, mock and make fun of the one who drops their books, who wear clothing that didn't cost a fortune or who choose a different path. The weak are preyed upon by those who are spoiled and lack any moral integrity.
Where are the protectors? The Knights who will champion the people?
Did you know that in Russia, many of the street kids are called "bums"? Many in society relegate the homeless children to a position of .well.to something no one feels responsible for. Somehow - it is okay to ignore the dying bum. It becomes sickly justified. What people in Ukraine and Russia are doing to millions of children is absolutely "evil". It is just another holocaust where the masses simply sit back and watch death. It is not just Russia or Ukraine. Although there are many who would help, but cannot even feed or clothe their own families. It is a human nature "dark side" of us. It starts innocently in our children's hearts with the sin of "mockery" and "debasement".
And while the weak and worn wander dark streets, they are growing and thinking. What is going on in their small hearts? Will they one day seek vengeance and find a weapon to lash back? What will their future be? We pray that the spirit of our Lord will grasp their souls. We pray for a spirit of knighthood and chivalry to rise up in our country and among the millions of lost children in Ukraine and Russia.
"Kingdom of Heaven", portrayed one view of the crusades. No matter if it was historically accurate. What did come through was the rise of one Knight, who stood for integrity; who stood for the people. The crusades were a tumultuous time in history and it was capped with this account.
"While there was no papal bull that called forth the Children's Crusade, it was nevertheless the result of the widespread enthusiasm and fervor that previous papal crusades had aroused. It is one of the most tragic of tales. In 1212 a twelve year old French shepherd boy named Stephen evidently claimed to have had a vision in which Christ appeared to him as a pilgrim and called for the rescue of the Holy Land. Eventually an army of thirty thousand children and adults gathered around Stephen. At about the same time, a ten year old German boy named Nicholas, and a second whose name has been lost, gathered similar groups of an estimated twenty thousand children and adults to go to the Holy Land. While some of these eventually returned to their homes, many died of hunger and of the rigors of the travel. Unscrupulous slave traders promised a large number free passage to the Holy Land 'for God'. Seven ships departed. Two were shipwrecked, and the others were taken to Africa and their passengers sold into slavery."
Although this crusade was a failure it was a phenomenon that stirred our hearts. Children.take up a cause.willing to march to the death.
The children we are about to meet in the streets of Kherson have nothing more to lose. They have no one to love them. They have no comfortable bed sheets. There is no one to tuck them in. And there is no one to teach them that their lifestyles are wrong.even to survive in the streets. Who will champion them? What will become of these young crusaders? For now, out team leaves for our crusade, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of the night. Pray for us. Pray for the children.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 at 09:23
Shirley and I are taking a team to Kherson next week. We will fly out of Lansing, MI on Monday morning May 16th and get into Ukraine Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. (9:00 EST). We will leave Kherson on the following Tuesday, quick overnight in Vienna, and on to Atlanta, Georgia where we will recuperate a couple of days (and give updates to several on our work).
Shirley and I (on the left) are taking: Our youngest daughter Megin and our son-in-law Josh from the Atlanta, Georgia area. They have been building their own support for the trip and have exceeded their financial goals. They will be taking supplies and expectations for God's heart to be revealed to the street kids.
Craig and Ann Savonen are traveling with Benjamin and Candace. Craig is an elder at Monroe Christian Church (where I have been preaching as an interim for the last two years--they just--finally, hired a guy!! Great news!)
Craig is an engineer and Ann is a professor. They paid for their own trip and have also raised over $2,000 to help the kids on site. They are also good friends.
Tim Rohrbach is from Suffolk, VA and is not officially a part of our team. He is already in Kherson visiting his sweetie who he is marrying this next year. Tim found out about our ministry and had seen the street kids plight first hand. We are meeting him in Kherson and talking about the possibility of him becoming a regional director in Kherson after his move there this next year.
God has put together a grand plan again. We are taking supplies and finances to help kids as young as 3 years old who live in the streets and the sewers. It is all about them. We are praying the Father's heart in ours. We are expecting to see--the eyes of our Lord--in the eyes of the children. Please pray with us that we have no problems with visas or supplies entering into Ukraine.
Please pray for our health. The enemy tries to distract us with sickness every trip it seems. My wife and I have allergies this week.
Please pray...for the divine appointments with the children in the streets of Kherson.
Monday, May 2, 2005
Posted: Monday, May 02, 2005 at 18:54
It has been a harrowing two weeks. I flew to St. Louis and set up at the St. Louis Christian College Missions conference. The next day I was able to present (briefly) the mission of Shepherd's Purse at the West Hills Community Church.
Everything turned out fine. It was the delayed luggage...was supposed to set up at 8:00 a.m. and didn't set up until 12. It was the five delays in Chicago...ended up in a hotel at 1:30 a.m. and up at 5:30. It was these little glitches that were annoying.
Thanks to Courtney and Mark Olmstead for letting me stay in their loft apartment. Wow...the neighborhood was "enchanting"...like a house and gardens model village. Flowering Wisteria and flowing fountains. Nice.
Then this Friday, Johnny Schaaf and I set up our display at the Michigan Christian Convention in Battle Creek. We met lots of new people and heard Todd Beamer's dad speak (the guy on the terroist flight who said, "Let's roll", and led passengers to divert the plane from its course back to Washington D.C.
Johnny is one of the "Shepherd's Hands" interns from Great Lakes Christian College. He and his wife, and three other couples are considering moving to Ukraine when they graduate. He was a great help at the convention. Thanks Johnny.
We left the convention at noon (early), flew back to Lansing and I performed a wedding at 4:00. Right after, Shirley and I raced down to Ohio where I again sat up my display and spoke on Sunday morning. Then their team (about 10 who plan to go to the Ukraine next March), had a luncheon where I introduced them to the mechanics of our trip.
Just before I spoke that morning I was approached by a young girl named Rachel. For her birthday money this year she had bought a beautiful baby blanket and some lice medicine to give to kids in Ukraine. Then she and her parents purchased 12 pairs of brand new boots for the kids in Ukraine.
I was floored.
Somehow the plight of the street kids in Russia and the Ukraine touches the hearts of young kids. They come up to our display table and just stare at the pictures. We had two other little girls donate their favorite dolls for kids in Ukraine. The Sunday School kids at Monroe Christian Church had an art auction and raised $350 for sleeping bags. Somehow the Father is able to communicate the need with his children.
So...now along with these boots...and many more boots, coats, and winter gear donated by a sweet lady named Bev Zandstra...we are setting a new project in motion.
Our goal is to collect: new or very good used coats, new boots/winter shoes, sweaters, hats and gloves. If you would like to participate please do three things.
1-Have them shipped or delivered to us by the end of August.
2-Send along $1.00 per pound. This will cover our overseas shipping costs.
3-Pray for "Christmas in Kherson"
It doesn't matter if you send one coat (and $2 for overseas shipping) or 20 coats. Send what you have and can afford. Our goal will be to ship these out in September. It takes an average of 3 months by (slow) boat. We hope to have them on location in Kherson, Ukraine by the time our team arrives for their Christmas on January 7th. Our goal is to have an even grander "Christmas in Kherson" this year than last.
Note: Coats are much needed each winter. It is not unusual to see a small child in a t-shirt. It is cold over there!
If you have any questions about this let us know. If you plan to participate...could you drop us a note also?
In two weeks, Monday, May 16th, our team heads for Kherson. We are taking lots of supplies and lots of cash to buy more. Please pray that we receive our visas...they still have not been approved.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 19:34
Peter just sent word, the trek was great. We will have more details soon. He just finished his trek through the Himmalyan Mountains. We will have more of a report on this later.
Peter is a minister in a church in Bromsgrove England. He is on sabbatical and decided to raise funds for the street kids...his goal was $10,000.
There is more good news!!! Peter's church has decided to donate the $1,200 we need for two salaries. Last year we had raised this amount, enough to pay two ladies a full-time wage ($50 per month) for one year. They have been actively working in the center with the kids and going out to the streets to help them. Now we have another year committed for their work.
More on this later also.